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Superbowl Snacks

7 Feb

After making the last-minute decision to invite a few people over for the Superbowl, I needed to figure out what to feed them (and myself).  While I’m sure most of the attendees would have been more than satisfied with beer and chips or pizza, I couldn’t let a golden opportunity to make some fun dips and party foods pass me by, especially considering how rarely we entertain.  Additionally, I have a particular fondness for the Superbowl since a Superbowl party was my first (blind) date with Zak.  As much as I loved the first time we met, I wanted to make this a far cry from the evening where we were the only two people watching the game while the other 30 people at the party played beer pong.

I took stock of what we had in the pantry and chose to make the recipes that follow.  All of these dishes were easy and could be prepared mostly ahead of time.  I know it’s a little late to be of use to anyone actually entertaining for the Superbowl, but I just couldn’t justify the cost or time investment of preparing a bunch of Superbowl-y dishes ahead of the actual Superbowl.  So also consider this a post of ideas for what to make for your Oscar’s party.

Bean and Scallion Dip

This dip takes less than five minutes to make and can be made with ingredients most people have in their pantries.  Feel free to substitute another white bean, such as cannellini or garbanzo, for the Great Northern beans included in this recipe.  This dip was light and flavorful – a nice change of pace from the cheese and meat heavy appetizers you would usually find at a BBQ or Superbowl party.

1 15 oz. can Great Northern beans

2 tbs. olive oil

4 oz. cream cheese

2 whole marinated garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tbs. lemon juice

1/2 cup scallions/green onions, white and dark green parts only, thinly sliced

Pita bread and pretzels for serving

Add all ingredients to food processor and puree until desired consistency.  I kept ours slightly chunky, about 10 one second pulses.

Gently fold in scallions, whites and greens, reserving about a tbs. of greens.  Garnish with a tbs. of sliced greens.

[Note: This can be prepared up to 72 hours in advance and then refrigerated in an airtight container.]

Baked Feta and Cheddar with Marinara

When I saw that we had canned tomatoes and feta, I recalled this delicious-sounding dip I saw on YumSugar awhile back.  Marinara is a very, very low maintenance pasta sauce to make, so I figured this would be perfect.  I only had a few ounces of feta so I decided to supplement it with some smoky cheddar.  If you make the marinara ahead of time, this is another two minutes of prep time.  The marinara itself only has about ten minutes of active time (including the intermittent stirring as the sauce simmers), so this dish yields a very, very favorable flavor-to-time-investment ratio.

Adapted from YumSugar

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

4 oz. smoked cheddar cheese, crumbled

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

4 cups marinara sauce (see below)

Non-stick cooking spray

Butter dips (see below), pita chips, or toasted baguettes for serving

Preheat oven to 375º.

Spray a small, oven proof serving dish such as a casserole with non-stick cooking spray.  Add crumbled feta and cheddar in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle with the crushed red pepper flakes.  Cover completely with the marinara sauce and spread smooth with the back of a spoon.

Place in oven and bake 20-30 minutes until marinara is bubbly and darkened.  Remove from oven and serve with butter dips (see below), toasted baguettes, or pita chips.

Quick Marinara:

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

2 tbs. olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 28 oz. can whole San Marzano tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

1/2 cup fresh curly leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Heat olive oil in a 10″, deep cast iron pan over medium heat.  Add vegetables and sauté until tender and edges are lightly caramelized, roughly 10-15 minutes.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Add tomatoes, bay leaves, and parsley.  Smash tomatoes with spatula.  Simmer over low heat, uncovered, roughly 1 hour or until sauce is thickened, periodically crushing tomatoes with spatula.  Discard bay leaves.

Transfer to food processor and pulse 10-15 times until smooth.

[Note: This can be prepared ahead of time and then refrigerated 24-48 hours in an airtight container.]

Butter Dips

I wanted a vessel for dipping other than chips, crispy pita, and pretzels.  I had seen these biscuits on TheKitchn and thought they looked delicious and buttery and much easier than most other biscuits, so I pulled up the recipe and set to work.  I doubled the recipe below.  These were a little salty in my opinion, but still quite good.

From TheKitchn

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Cut the butter into four equal pieces and place them in a 9-inch-square baking dish. Put the baking dish in the oven to melt the butter. This will take about 5 minutes; remove the baking dish once the butter has completely melted.

While the butter is melting, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the milk quickly, stopping as soon as a loose dough forms.

Sprinkle some flour over a large cutting board or pastry mat. Turn the dough out onto the mat and press lightly into a long, narrow rectangle. Use knife dipped in flour to cut the dough into 12 equal strips.

Take each strip and place it in the baking dish, turning each strip to cut it into butter. Repeat with all the dough and place the strips close together in the baking dish.

Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Let cool for 5 minutes before breaking into individual strips and eating.

Cilantro and Lime Chicken Wings

Chicken wings were Zak’s idea, and I’m glad he suggested them.  These are loosely modeled off of the cilantro and lime wings served at Michael Symon’s B-Spot, which are my absolute favorite wings ever in the history of time.  I decided to bake rather than fry them, partially for the health factor and partially because I wanted to have everything basically ready to go before our guests got here and didn’t want to be standing over the stove battling splattering hot oil while people walked in.  If you want crispy wings, bake them for an initial 20 minutes and then finish them off in a few cups of canola oil heated to 375º for another 10 minutes or so.  The flavors of these chicken wings were excellent.  They work great as an appetizer/snack, but would be a really nice main course for a casual dinner with friends as well.

1 4 lb. bag kosher chicken wings and drumsticks, defrosted if frozen

4 limes, juiced

1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

10 green onions, whites only, thinly sliced

1/4 cup corn oil

3 cloves garlic

Nonstick cooking spray

Combine all ingredients except chicken wings in a food processor.  Pulse 15-20 times until smooth.

Place chicken wings and marinade in a large plastic bag and shake to evenly coat wings.  Marinate 2-4 hours in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375º.

Cover 2 large baking sheets with tinfoil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Place wings on baking sheets in an even layer, giving each wing at least 1/2″ on all sides.  Bake 30-40 minutes until cooked through (when internal temperature reaches 165°).

Remove wings from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cheddar, Tomato and Mushroom Pizza

I realized last minute I had a sheet of puff pastry chilling out in the freezer and thought I would take this opportunity to get rid of it, rather than have it hanging around, mocking me with its deliciousness.  This was a very easy crowd-pleaser.

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed if frozen

1 cup smokey cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup plum tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 egg, beaten

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º.

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with non-stick cooking spray (or use parchment paper, if you have it).  Roll out sheet of puff pastry and place on greased baking sheet.  Brush a 3/4″ strip along the edges of the puff pastry with the beaten egg.  Fold the edges over to form a 1/2″ border, pressing firmly with a fork to form a rim.  Prick the entire center all over with a fork.  Place into refrigerator and chill for half an hour.

Add cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms to forked (haha) area of puff pastry sheet.  Place in oven and bake 20 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Roasted Garlic, and Kalamata Olive Dip

20 Jan

My Legal Writing class had a head-to-head review last week in which the losing team had to provide snacks for the rest of the class.  We were on the “losing” team.  I say “losing” because the professor confided in us that our answer wasn’t wrong, she just had to cut us off because our fierce competitive nature was taking up far too much class time.  Anyway, I wanted to bring something that I could serve cold since we only have three microwaves in the whole school and I didn’t feel like hovering over a crock pot while on break between classes.

This was super, super easy to make and really delicious.  It was so good that I’m going to make another batch for a family get-away this weekend.  It was rich and delicious and included a lot of my favorite flavors.  You’d have to be a complete freak of nature not to love a good, cheese-laden dip, and this is definitely a REALLY good, cheese-laden dip.  It tastes surprisingly light in spite of that, so no matter how you cut it … you’d kind of have to be a weirdo not to like this.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Roasted Garlic, and Kalamata Olive Dip

Adapted from Noble Pig

1 head garlic

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tbs. olive oil

3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped, plus more for garnish

4 oz. goat cheese, softened

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped

Curly leaf parsley, to garnish

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut top 1/4″ off of bulb of garlic.  Place on 12″ sheet of tinfoil and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Roast 45 minutes to an hour until garlic cloves are deep golden brown and soft.  Carefully remove from foil and let cool 10-15 minutes until easily handled.

Remove garlic cloves by squeezing base of each clove.  Don’t eat them all (sometimes I need to remind myself of this step so I thought I would include it for your benefit).  Place in food processor.  Add sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, and goat cheese.  Process in 2 second bursts until blended.  Alternatively, mince sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic, then place all ingredients in a large bowl and blend with hand mixer until blended.

Fold in olives.  If you are using a hand mixer, it’s okay to add them with the other ingredients.  Taste and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve (overnight is best, it allows the flavors to meld).  Garnish with extra sun-dried tomatoes and curly leaf parsley.  Serve cold with crackers, chips, or crudités (I served it with garlic-flavored bagel chips).

Roasted Garlic Hummus

23 Dec

Looking for a super easy holiday appetizer?  You might want to consider hummus.  It can be made with items found in almost any pantry, with the exception of the tahini paste (and that is carried at your local grocer).  You can leave the tahini paste out or substitute with a teaspoon or so of toasted sesame seeds.  If you can work a food processor or blender, you can make hummus … but I’ve found, over the years, people are really impressed by it because they think it’s super exotic and thus complicated.  Win-win.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, liquid reserved

1 head garlic

5 tbs. olive oil, divided

2 tbs. tahini paste

1 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

A few sprigs fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Serve with toasted pita triangles, soft pita triangles, 1″ sections of celery, baby carrots, or anything else that sounds good to you

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut top 1/4″ inch off of garlic head to barely expose the cloves.  Drizzle with 1 tbs. olive oil and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Wrap tightly in a piece of tinfoil and place in oven.  Roast 35-45 minutes until exposed garlic cloves are a deep golden brown and very soft to the touch.

Carefully remove garlic from tinfoil wrapping – watch out, some steam will escape.  Reserve any olive oil trapped in the tinfoil.  Allow garlic to cool enough to handle, about ten minutes.  Remove garlic cloves from peel by squeezing at the base of each clove.

Place chickpeas, roasted garlic, lemon juice, and tahini paste in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  If necessary, scrape down sides of food processor.  With machine running, slowly add olive oil (include any reserved garlic-infused olive oil) until hummus is creamy.  If necessary, add reserved chickpea liquid with machine running to acquire desired consistency.

Using the back of a large spoon, make a depression in the center of the hummus and fill with a tbs. or so of olive oil.  Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley.

Dry Rubbed Roast Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce

19 Dec

I haven’t posted a roast chicken recipe in a few weeks, so I guess I’m overdue.  We got this chicken from a local kosher butcher, and while the taste was fantastic, it had a TON of pinfeathers still in it I had to pull out and I probably won’t be buying a whole chicken from that particular butcher again.  Keep in mind if you are buying chicken from a butcher (particularly a kosher butcher) that many pre-brine their chickens, as was the case here.  Because of that, I skipped the wet brine and did not use any salt in my dry rub.  The rub turned out fantastic, though – a perfect combination of slightly sweet and slightly spicy.  As always, for a full how-to on roast chicken check out my post for the Perfect Roast Chicken (just be sure not to brine a pre-brined chicken, it will be over-salted and mushy).

The sweet potato fries were also very good, with a hint of heat from the Old Bay and lots of sweetness from the fries themselves.  The cool tang of the Greek yogurt-based dipping sauce worked really well with them (and the chicken).  I only pictured the fries up top, but there is a picture of the whole meal after the jump.

Dry Rubbed Roast Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce

Dry Rubbed Roast Chicken:

1 whole fryer/broiler chicken, rinsed in cold water with neck and giblets removed (save these for homemade chicken stock!) (3.75 lbs)

1 lemon, quartered

1 Jonathan Red apple, quartered

3 tbs. Brummel & Brown

Dry Rub:

1 tbs. brown sugar

1 tbs. freshly cracked black pepper

1 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbs. fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 tbs. Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp. dried thyme

Combine all dry rub ingredients.  Take Brummel & Brown from above and rub all over chicken, including under skin, in cavity, and on reverse side.  Repeat with dry rub.  Dress the chicken with lemons and apples by shoving deep into the cavity of the chicken.  Allow chicken to rest, uncovered, on roasting rack in refrigerator for at least 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 475°.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and place on a baking dish on top of a roasting rack.  `Place chicken in preheated oven on center rack.  Roast at 475° for 15 minutes or until skin is light golden brown.  After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350°.  Roast chicken roughly 20 minutes per pound (rounding up to nearest pound), or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh reads 185º.  If chicken becomes overly brown, tent with a piece of tinfoil.

When fully cooked, remove chicken from oven and cover with tinfoil.  Rest 15-20 minutes, which will allow juices to redistribute and result in a tender, juicy bird.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries:

3 sweet potatoes, rinsed and cut into 1/4″ long slices and 1/4″ wide strips

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbs. Old Bay seasoning

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

As chicken is resting, increase heat to 450º.

On a tinfoil lined baking sheet, toss sweet potato strips with olive oil.  Season with Old Bay, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until crispy on the outside, shaking pan every 5-10 minutes.

Greek Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

3 heaping tbs. plain Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp. garlic powder

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and let chill in refrigerator at least one hour.

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Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck

19 Nov

Today was an all-around great day.  I will say straight off I forgot to take pictures of the wonderful recipes below.  But, hey, I was a little overexcited tonight, because Zak proposed when I got home from school today. :)  I couldn’t be happier and was on cloud nine all day.  Then, I got to spend the evening with my wonderful friends eating some delicious food, drinking some beer and wine, talking, laughing (a hell of a lot!), and listening to some great music (new Girl Talk!).  It was so exciting to announce our engagement to my friends and get so much love and support from everybody.  I could not be happier about getting to spend my life with such a wonderful man.  Every day since I’ve met him has been so wonderful.  Equally importantly, I could not ask for better in-laws.  I can’t wait to have my first sister (in-law), and my future mother-in-law and father-in-law are so amazingly awesome.  I love them all to death and can’t wait to have his huge extended family as my own.

Annnnnyyyyyyyway …. if you’re looking for Thanksgiving recipes, below is a good start.  I won’t lie and say they aren’t time consuming – because they are – but they are not at all difficult.  It’s just a lot of slicing, layering, chopping, etc.  The good news is that much of this can be done beforehand.  I had everything in the fridge last night.  You could easily do the caramelized onions/mushrooms for the dip and grate the cheese for the gratin 2 days before.  Use your judgment.  Most of the ingredients in these recipes, with the exception of the sliced potatoes for the gratin (which, I won’t lie, takes awhile to assemble) can be done in advance.  At the very least, you can have everything chilling in the refrigerator and ready to go in the oven the evening before.

Really, though, despite the fact that these are not quick and easy recipes … you can taste the love.  These dishes were winners all around at our pot luck.  Like I said, this was a great day for me.  I got congrats for my engagement and praise for my cooking (and more than one comment about how it was obvious why he was marrying me!).

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

I often save recipes for dips and appetizers from around the web but rarely get the chance to use them since we do not entertain very often.  I was really excited to try out this warm dip.  Caramelized onions, you say?  Mushrooms?  Cheese … lots of cheese?  Sign me up.

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Serves 4-8


2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs. butter

1 medium onion, sliced

1 1/2 lbs. crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup white wine

2 4 oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup mozzarella, grated

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

1/4 cup Gouda, grated

Assortment of crackers/store bought crostini bread

In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil.  Add butter and melt.  Add onion and cook until lightly caramelized, roughly 20 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté until caramelized, roughly 20 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Add wine to deglaze pan, cooking until liquid has evaporated/been absorbed by mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Add 1/2 of mushroom mixture to food processor and puree.  In large bowl, mix pureed and other mushrooms, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and cheeses.  Transfer to a baking dish.  Bake in preheated oven until bubbling and golden brown on top, about 20-40 minutes.

Serve with an assortment of crackers/crostini bread.

Potato and Onion Gratin

This is an enlarged version (sans-green onion) of the potato and onion gratin I made last week when our friend came over for the basketball game.

Serves 10

1 large white onion, thinly sliced

9 small potatoes, thinly sliced (use a mandolin or food processor slicer for best results)

9 tbs. all natural, whole wheat flour

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbs. unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups 1% milk

3 cups grated Gruyère cheese

3 cups grated very sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375º.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in milk.

Meanwhile, spray casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Toss potatoes and onion in flour to coat.  Place one layer of potatoes, then onion in casserole dish.  Top with a few tablespoons of milk-butter mixture, including some garlic, 1/4 of each type of cheese.  Add another layer of potatoes and onions and repeat two more times.  Top with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, about 1 hour.  If top is not browned or crisp, transfer to the broiler for 5-10 minutes.  Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.

Giblet and Herb Dressing

This recipe is an amalgamation of all of the ways I’ve seen stuffing prepared by my family members over the years.  Normally, I would make a sausage stuffing, but we had a few Jewish gentlemen who keep kosher in the group, so I decided to make giblet stuffing instead (some pretty extensive Googling confirmed this was okay).

Serves 12

1 sack giblets from chicken

2 cups water

3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. butter, plus more for buttering casserole dish

1 3/4 cups diced celery

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup carrot, chopped

1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced

14 cups day old bread, chopped into 1/4″ to 1/2″ cubes (I used one loaf French bread and one loaf Italian white bread)

3 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth

1 tsp. dried crushed rosemary

3 tbs. fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

3 tbs. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a small sauce pan, add giblets and add water to cover (about two cups).  Season with kosher salt.  Simmer, covered, roughly 1 1/2-2 hours until tender.  Add liver and simmer another 20-30 minutes.  Reserving one cup cooking liquid, remove giblets and chop.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Heat butter over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add onion, celery, carrots, dried rosemary, fresh sage leaves, and fresh thyme leaves and sauté until vegetables are tender, roughly 8 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook an additional 5-7 minutes until mushrooms have given off liquid and lightly caramelized.  Add broth and bring to a slow boil.

Remove stock pot from heat and stir in bread cubes, reserved giblets and their cooking liquid, and poultry seasoning.  Dressing should be moist but not sopping wet.  Transfer to large buttered casserole dish and cover tightly.  Bake in preheated oven roughly 45 minutes.  Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes until dressing is toasted.

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